Large Public Works Projects III- SPWPs and the Flintstone Project

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I was thinking about LPWPs again today and how this concept might be scaled down to a Community level to build Low Tech Energy Harvesting and Storage devices.  I’ve got an idea here germinating I am going to call the “Flinstone Project”, after the old Flintstones Cartoon.

In the cartoon there were all sorts of impossible machines using Animal Power, Water Power or Wind Power to perform the same functions we currently use Fossil fuel driven machines to do.  You know, Dinosaurs in place of Cranes and Back Hoes at the Rock Quarry mining up Rocks for building the McMansions of Bedrock and so forth.

What I’m going to do here is mostly dispense with Animal Power except for the purposes of Transportation on a Local Level.  All the rest of the Energy to do Work will come from Wind, Hydro, Solar, and Thermal Gradients.

Lets start with the Location of the hypothetical Bedrock Community of the future.  Lets put it in a fairly idealized location that has 4 seasons weather, a decent size River flowing through the community, good Sunshine during the Summer and some surrounding Mountaoins or at least prety hilly terrain with rises up to say 1000′ above the lowest river level, which itself is say 300′ above sea level.  Wheeling, WV or Chatanooga, TN strike me off the top of my head as good such locations.

Lets start with the Wind Power.  We’ll build Windmills near the tops of the hills where they can grab the most wind.  Here is you will also build your sawmills, grain grinders and so forth that need mechanical power to drive them.  However, unless you have means of storing the power, its only available when its windy.  To resolve this problem, You build noext to the Windmill another Tower which has a say 1 Ton Rock that you can crank up on windy days.  When its not windy, you let the rock slowly drop, and this turns geared up pulley systems to run your mechanical machines.  You can also have this hooked up to a scavenged Truck Alternator to produce electricity on days its not windy as well.  Everything can be built from renewable materials (wood, rope, cloth, rock mostly) except the alternator and associated wiring, but we will cover that later.

Simlarly, you run Aqueducts/Pipes from Upstream on the river through the community where they exit say 200′ in vertical height maybe a mile or so downriver.  Each of these pipes can be used to drive microhydro turbines, which can be used either directly for mechanical power or again could each drive a smaller car alternator.

Solar Power is collected via reflectors and a storage tank of water that the solar reflectors heat up to boiling temperatures on hot sunny days, which then is used to power a Stirling Engine.  Other reflectors can be focused on Ovens that will reach 1000s of degrees on a sunny day, providing heat to smelt metal out of rock, or just soften up some scavenged metal so you can reform it into new shapes.

Now, in the Winter you have to turn off the valves on your Hydro system, since the mostly above ground piping would freeze up.  Also your solar collection system does not work much in the winter.  However, if you have numerous of the Suspended Rock Towers in your community (say one for each Dwelling) , going into the winter this gets cranked all the way up, and then also has a smaller windmill attached so that on Windy days the Rock can be cranked back up some.

Your Refrigeration Issues are solved through having a Community Ice House, or better still a Cave either natural or dug out.  In the Winter, a major activity is freezing up blocks of water into large Ice Cubes say 1’x1’x2′.  These are carried into the Cave, which is left Open as long as temps are below freezing, and closed up whenever not.  This makes a large Refrigerator with a relatively constant 30-35 degree temp through most of the year.  Depending on overall temps and how much Ice you stack up, it might all melt by the end of the summer, but you should have refrigeration naturally this way most of the year.

You can supplement this though by using mechanical power to run Refrigeration Pumps, long as you can still scavenge them up and have some coolant you can pressurize then expand to drop its temperature.  Long term though, such refrigeration pumps would be hard to maintain with these basic types of systems.

Electrical energy you do produce in excess can also be used to hydrolyze water forming Hydrogen Gas, which you can then use your mechanically driven pumping systems to store in pressurized containers, again things like scavenger like Scuba Tanks or Helium Tanks  etc.

Now, we have covered most of the important mechanical uses of energy, refrigeration, etc but we still haven’t covered Transportation or Home Heating and Lighting.

Heating shouldn’t be much of a problem, since you resolve most of these issues through Personal Insulation of clothing as well as Passive Solar arrangements, supplemented as necessary by burning small amounts of wood on your coldest subzero days.  Such days however would mainly be Hibernation Days, where the most you might do is sit up in your sleeping bag and do some Knitting or Carving or chewing some hides to soften them up.

For lighting, as long as you still have available some diode lights, you’ll have enough electricity to run a few of these, but mostly eventually you’ll have to make do with stuff like Candles and Lanterns which burn perhaps Vegetable Oils, Pine Tar or Animal Fat you collect up.  Again though, in all seasons you’ll basically be sleeping during the Dark Hours and getting up at the Crack of Dawn to use the Lit portion of the day for activities that need light and seeing.

For Transportation, on the local scale its mostly Foot, perhaps you’ll be able to keep Bicycles working for a decent period of time.  The Polymer Tires will eventually wear out though, so not sure what you might substitute for that.  Perhaps some thick strips of tough animal hide might work.

Horses, Buggies and Wagons are used mainly for taking whatever food you grow or hunt and harvest up, throwing it in the back of the wagon to bring back in from say a 5 mile radius around Bedrock.

Canoes, Kayaks and low draft Sailboats can be used for longer distance travel and trade with other communities along the river, all the way down to wherever it finally meets the ocean, if its Navigable all along the way.  In places where it is not, stretches of Rail track can be laid, since you haven’t lost the ability to take all the junck metal around and reform it into rail tracks.  To more stuff along these rail tracks, you use a combination of all the Power systems previously described to operate Chain systems the rail cars attach to which slowly but constantly pull the cars along the rail.  Of course, if you are generating  up enough electricity, you also can run a Third Rail carrying power and have on board electric motors as well moving the cars along.

Large Sailboats do the job of moving stuff up and down the coasts and between continents, as they did back in the colonial era.  If well organized, perhaps also you have some very Large Hydro Plants and Wind Farms producing a LOT of power, where you can maintain complex industries producing even stuff like Computers, if you can get the necessary Ingredients to them.  In this case, you might still even have Big Screen TVs to stay entertained in your Bedrock McMansion, lol.

Now, while this certainly is way more Primitive as a lifestyle goes than what we currently live, neither is it complete Stone Age either.  It also to me seems completely sustainable on a Pay as You Go Energy basis.  Your permaculture farming/food collection should not require high energy fertilizers, you just conserve and mulch and don’t take more out of the land then you put back each year.  Seaweed, Fish bones etc pulled from the ocean can be brought back upstream each year as a source of fertilizer materials.  The Ocean is of course an inexhaustible supply of all the minerals you need, and the various life forms that grow in the ocean concentrate them up for you.  Even just harvesting up Algae Blooms would provide plenty of fertilizer.

What would it take to Reverse Engineer up the Flintstone Paradigm?  Well, first off obviously a fairly large Die Off since such a paradigm won’t support the Big Shities.  Also, its doubtful you could move that many of the current residents of such Big Shities out to enough good Locations that could support them all, even well distributed.

A big problem you have with this is of course the Waste aspect of any community, in the case of a River for instance too many communities with too dense a population living along the river will generally produce too much waste which flows into the river, thus poisoning the water downstream.  However, good waste management in each community carefully taking all the waste produced, mulching it properly and exposing it to sunlight to kill bacteria can keep that problem to a minimum.

Although Gaia probably cannot support 7B, if carefully built up on a sustainable level over centuries, I’d bet on 3B being possible globally.  That won’t happen here though, we’ll have to undergo a vast undershoot before such a Better Tomorrow might be Reverse Engineered into existence.

This is however a ROADMAP for what might be possible after TSHTF, and after the Wars and the Fascism are over and done with, and a few Lucky survivors in various locations around the world begin to work TOGETHER again to build a Better Tomorrow.  Over time, I suspect most of the really good stuff we have can be in some sense reinvented or salvaged without it really being necessary to have huge amounts of fossil fuel enrgy to waste.  The basic priciples are all there, the material is all there and always will be, at least until your location is covered in a 2 meter thick blanket of Ash when La Garita Caldera once again throws 5000 Cubic Kilometers of Ejecta up into the atmoshpere.

In the absence of those kind of ELEs though, its just a matter of Homo Sapiens becoming REALISTIC about Planetary Resources, how fast they are replenished and how to cooperate and work together to use them efficiently and conservatively.  This IS possible in the long term, its just not very likely in the short term.

For each of us Revos though, my best suggestion is to pick out a spot with the right set of resources, right climate conditions and currently small enough population that on a community level, you might beign to develop a SPWP of this sort for your community after TSHTF and as a community if you don’t do this, you’ll collapse to Stone Knives and Bear Skins.  You cannot convince people to do this NOW of course, they won’t buy into it until all the systems they currently do depend on really do fail in their entirety.  AFTER the Zero Point though, you’ll have a more receptive audience to the ideas, and then in your small comunity, it is up to YOU to make it so.  You KNOW what is coming down the pipe.  You KNOW what possible Solutions there are that are realistic and can be done on a Pay As You Go energy Basis.  It is your RESPONSIBILITY if you survivie the Zero Point to bring these ideas in front of your community and inspire them to not GIVE UP. A Better Tomorrow IS out there, but we will have to work very hard to make it so. TOGETHER.

RE

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